Singapore’s very first independent cinema, Sinema Old School, will hold its last screenings on Saturday 17 December 2011.
Film lovers will be able to catch the award-winning films “Red Light Revolution” (M18), a humorous film about a Chinese man who opens a sex toy shop in his conservative hometown, as well as the emotive drama “Breath” (M18) from Korea, along with the Korean coming of age film “Spring, summer, fall, winter and spring” (M18) over the weekend.
Although many people think that the screenings will mark the closure of Sinema Old School, co-founder Nicholas Chee says this is simply a misconception – Sinema Old School still has six months on its lease, which will see it remain open till mid 2012, after which it will close to make way for redevelopment.
“The last screening is this Saturday, but we have six more months [after that], we are not doing programmed screenings but we are going to make a lot of events happen,” said Chee, explaining that the authorities had earlier generously granted Sinema Old School a six-month extension on their lease, in addition to the one year extension they received previously.
“We are talking to film festival programmers to do film festivals here.”
“The whole idea is that we want the last six months to be ultra exciting, go out with a huge bang.”
A fruitful four years
Chee isn’t upset about Sinema Old School’s impending closure and preferred to look at what it had achieved so far since it began operating in 2007.
“We have seen a number of films that have been screened here that may not have had a chance [otherwise], and a lot of Singapore films have gone out to other places because of our contacts.
“We have made some contribution towards creating a platform [for filmmakers]. If you are an independent filmmaker, you know that you can show your film here,” said Chee.
But for him, Sinema Old School’s biggest triumph was that it had been a good space for people from all creative disciplines to come together and build a more exciting creative industry in Singapore.
New chapter for Sinema
Chee said it won’t be the end of the road even after Sinema Old School closes.
The team which operated the cinema will still stay together to develop Sinema TV, an independent public service webcast channel set up in April on YouTube, while they hunt for a suitable place for a new cinema.
According to Chee’s associate Jillyn Koh who manages Sinema TV, their YouTube channel will “give a new meaning to public service broadcasting” in Singapore and create “independent, purposeful content” that educates people as well provide regular glimpses of what life is like here.
Despite the strong focus on growing Sinema TV, film buffs and Sinema Old School fans will be happy to know that Chee and his team is determined to set up a new cinema, which would double as an important physical space for creative minds to meet.
Chee says he already has an ideal place in mind which, if they can obtain it, will be much more accessible than Sinema Old School’s current address.
Still, he believes that having such a space will be for naught if people are unwilling to step up and tell their stories.
“At the end of the day, people have to come together, put good ideas into practice and not be afraid to create,” said Chee.